Tom Wilkes -- Trumpet -- Shingle Shakers
In reply to your request for a little bio of me, here goes. I am Tom Wilkes, age 62. I have been playing music in one form or another for about 52 of those years. I started out on a baritone horn in school, which by the way, is still my favorite instrument. I took nine years of lessons on it but once school ended, so did the baritone career. I was seriously thinking of becoming a music teacher, and took quite a few courses on all of the other brass instruments so I could get a feel for them, but being a better industrial mechanic I stuck with that.
Currently, I play in a little dance band with the primary focus on music from the 20's, 30's and 40's. There are four of us in "The Melody Men" and we do gigs at a bunch of retirement communities. The band consists of a synthesized accordian and drums; one of the members doubles on either tenor banjo or tenor guitar; and I switch off between trumpet or cornet, trombone, tuba and have the vocal duty. This past year we played over 60 gigs. We do it for fun and relaxation, and the fee we charge keeps me in beer and cigars.
I have been in love with the same woman for 27 years (if my wife finds out she'll kill me). Seriously, Sharol (pronounced like Cheryl) and I have five children. Barb is married and lives right next door to us in Overland, Mo. with her husband and our only granddaughter, so far. Julie who lives with us and will probably marry soon. Charles, (Chaz) attends Central Methodist University, north of Columbia. He is studing Music Education, the tuba is his instrument. Chaz and his wife live on campus. Andrew (AJ) is attends Southwest Missouri State and is majoring in Accounting. Some of you already know him, since he played drums with us at the Hunter's Moon Festival in Kentucky last fall. And finally, our youngest, Katie, 16 is a junior in high school. An excellent soprano and a fair tenor sax player. She loves the twenties stuff we play, and I had her sing with our band a couple of times on a hot rendition of "Deed I Do" from 1927. As you can see, we are quite musical.
Although Sharol was once a violinist, she gave it up to become a great homemaker, but still flexes a very wonderful and powerful Soprano voice now and then.
I met all of you wonderful Shingle Shakers through Steve Pendleton of Atlanta, Georgia. I play now and then with his dad, Rusty in conjunction with the St. Louis Banjo Club. We were playing in Kentucky a couple of years ago, and I had brought along my cornet. I was playing the tuba with the banjo players, and one night we jammed at our lodging with Steve on trombone and I on cornet along with a couple of the banjo players in the group. This past summer Steve called me up, explained that you guys needed a horn, and the rest is history.
It has been a truly great honor and a wonderful thing in my life to be able to get together with the very fine musicians that you guys are, and I feel like I have known all of you that I met for a lot longer time period than just the one gig. Thanks so much. I used to play along with old Dixieland recordings with my baritone horn, but since Guy Lombardo is the only band that I ever saw use a baritone, I thought that the transition to cornet/trumpet would not be that hard, and I surprised myself. The beauty of the whole thing is that I am fortunate to be with a bunch of guys that LOVE DIXIELAND MUSIC LIKE I DO. Again, thanks for the opportunity to fulfill a life long dream. Anytime I can make it for a gig, I'll be there.